Burma army helicopters airlifted an estimated 200 troops to reinforce government positions near the town of Pangwa last week, as the army tries to retake the town located on the Kachin-China border.
Pangwa came under the control of the Kachin Independence Organization in late April after troops from the government controlled Border Guard Force who were previously in an KIO breakaway faction joined the resistance.
The fall of Pangwa has been a major embarrassment to the army which has responded by sending more reinforcements to Pangwa over the past week, according to KIO sources currently stationed in the Pangwa area. The army’s Northern Regional Command based in Myitkyina is also sending ground troops to Pangwa through the Myitkyina-Waingmaw-Chipwi road, however the troops cannot reach Pangwa due to strong resistance from Kachin forces along the route, say local villagers.Once a stronghold for the now defunct New Democratic Army-Kachin (NDAK), Pangwa is an important trading area due to its proximity to Myitkyina the Kachin state capital.
In 2009 the NDA-K officially ceased to exist when its standing army of about 1,000 troops was officially absorbed by the national border guard force. Many NDA-K soldiers were upset with their leader Zahkung Ting Ying’s decision dissolve the group and join the border guard force.
The NDA-K was the successor to a unit that broke-away from the KIO in 1968 to join forces with the Burma Communist Party (BCP). Following the dissolution of the BCP in 1989, the NDA-K leadership reached a lucrative ceasefire agreement with Burma’s central government that enabled the group to profit from the cross border timber trade at Kambaiti and Pangwa.
Zahkung Ting Ying’s is currently an independent MP in Burma’s parliament. Following the outbreak of fighting last year between the KIO and army troops Zahkung was placed under house arrest despite the fact he hadn’t been in the KIO for more than 40 years.
KIO destroys five army trucks at Chipwi
According to villagers in Chipwi, KIO forces destroyed five army trucks near Chipwi on May 1, in a bid to block the army from sending troop reinforcements to army positions at Pangwa.